by Mick Akers, Las Vegas Review-Journal, February 21, 2023
Brightline West entered into an agreement with several rail unions that commits to using unionized laborers to operate and maintain the planned $10 billion Las Vegas-to-Southern California system.
The deal announced Tuesday morning between Brightline and the High-Speed Labor Coalition garners the support of 13 rail unions, with more than 160,000 union laborers, for the long-planned rail system.
The agreement also underscores Brightline West’s commitment to providing the safest rail operations and high-quality working conditions for its employees, the coalition said.
“The High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition is proud to be in partnership with Brightline West in this historic project,” the coalition said in a statement. “Americans want high-speed rail, and Brightline West and the High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition will deliver. Brightline West will be the most elegant travel by rail experience you can have in America, and it will be the catalyst for America’s renaissance of travel by high-speed rail. The High-Speed Rail Labor Coalition is ready to bring this transformative transportation project to Americans. Let’s get to work.”
The planned 218-mile high-speed rail system will connect Las Vegas and Rancho Cucamonga within the Interstate 15 right-of-way. Trains are planned to be able to reach speeds of over 200 mph.
Brightline West is set to include a station in Southern Nevada on Las Vegas Boulevard between Warm Springs and Blue Diamond roads. In Southern California stations are planned for Rancho Cucamonga and Victorville. Riders can transfer to the Metrolink at the Rancho Cucamonga station to travel to and from Los Angeles.
Once the system is operational, Brightline expects the project will create more than 1,000 permanent jobs.
Brightline projects the creation of nearly 35,000 jobs during construction of the rail line and more than generating $10 billion in economic impact.
“As the nation’s largest transportation labor union federation, we are proud to support monumental projects like Brightline West, which will deliver a modern, efficient, and green transit system while putting skilled union members to work,” Greg Regan, president of the Transportation Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, said in a statement.
Funding for the project would consist of a mix of federal grants and private activity bonds that Brightline would apply for in both Nevada and California. Brightline and the Nevada Department of Transportation hope to land up to $2 billion in federal grants to go toward construction of the system.
The project could break ground later this year, depending on the Federal Railroad Administration’s decision on the project environmental assessment and the awarding of funding.
“Our nation’s first high-speed rail system will be operated and maintained by union labor, a statement of the strength of the American workforce,” Mike Reininger, CEO of Brightline Holdings, said in a statement. “As the most shovel-ready high-speed rail project in the United States, we are one step closer to leveling the playing field against transit and infrastructure projects around the world, and we are proud to be using America’s most skilled workers to get there.”